Investing can help you hit your financial goals, but it’s not foolproof. Recognize and try to avoid these five common investing mistakes.

Mistake 1: Making 401(k) withdrawals for nonurgent expenses

It might be tempting to dip into that 401(k) retirement account for a vacation or a kitchen renovation, but it can be a costly tactic. Your plan may not allow you to contribute or receive employer-matching dollars until you repay the loan. If you lose your job or start a new one, you’ll usually have just 30 to 60 days to repay the loan. If you don’t repay, it’s considered a withdrawal, and you’ll owe taxes on the money. If you’re under age 59 1/2, you’ll pay a withdrawal penalty too. Further, you’ll pay the “opportunity cost,” which is the potential growth the money would have earned, tax-deferred, thanks to compounding.

Mistake 2: Failing to diversify your investments

Diversification is about spreading your risk and rewards based on your investing objectives at various points in your life. Diversification means bringing variety into your portfolio. It can be accomplished by investing in assets that react differently to different market conditions (like stocks and bonds). Because diversification of the types of asset you hold is related to risk, appropriate diversification may also mean adjusting your investment choices based on your life phase and goals. If you’re 30 and investing for retirement, for example, a conservative allocation might not provide the higher earnings you need to fund your total retirement goal. If you’re 60, on the other hand, not diversifying into more conservative investments could expose you to excessive risk at a time you can’t afford to lose your money.

Mistake 3: Investing for long-term goals; reacting to short-term events

Even the most stoic investors experience anxiety when the market dips and takes the value of their investments with it. But successful long-term investors know that avoiding knee-jerk reactions based on fear, and resisting the temptation to sell for a short-term gain, has been an effective way to accrue wealth. For long-term goals, such as retirement, purchase investments that have the potential to grow over the years while fitting your own tolerance for short-term losses. Check your investments periodically to ensure that your strategy is working as planned. If you become concerned about a real shift in the health of the market, speak with a Financial Advisor to confirm your approach is still appropriate.

Mistake 4: Having unrealistic investment expectations

Big investment gains in the short-term are not the norm. Instead, daily ups and downs typically average out to an overall stable percentage of growth. Successful investors expect this. They weather market fluctuations and contribute regularly to their accounts to give their investments the potential to grow over time, rather than hoping they will “hit the jackpot” in the markets.

Mistake 5: Missing opportunities to save on taxes

State and federal governments offer many options for investors to delay — or avoid — paying taxes on money that will be used for a specific goal, such as retirement, education, and health care. A financial professional or tax advisor can help you learn about and take advantage of these opportunities to save on taxes.

Creating a diversified investing plan that accounts for realistic market expectations, your risk appetite, and current and future taxes is the first step in pursuing your investing goals.

Empower yourself with financial knowledge

We’re committed to your financial success. Here you’ll find a wide range of helpful information, interactive tools, practical strategies, and more — all designed to help you increase your financial literacy and reach your financial goals.

My Financial Guide